A civil society organization has urged Nigerians to disregard antics of saboteurs attempting to tarnish the reputation of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla and the Nigerian Navy.
The Civil Society for Peace, Security and Development (CSPSD) made the call at a news conference by its Convener, Mr Obadiah Ovye, in Abuja on Friday.
He described recent allegations on the collection of bribes to the tune of 170 million dollars to facilitate crude oil theft in connivance with foreign nationals as baseless and unfounded.
Onye said that credible intelligence revealed that the allegation was being peddled by a cartel of notorious crude oil thieves, whose illicit business had been grounded by the Nigerian Navy.
He said that the cartel now enlisted the services of some unpatriotic elements to launch a smear campaign against Ogalla, who wanted President Bola Tinubu to sack him.
He said that before the inauguration of the present administration, Nigeria suffered huge losses amounting to billions of dollars from crude oil theft and other unwholesome activities along Nigeria’s maritime borders.
Ovye said following the appointment of Ogalla, he had done exceedingly well in putting an end to bunkering, illegal refining of petroleum products and other crimes, in line with directive of Mr President.
He said, while Mr President and many Nigerians were happy that Nigeria could now meet its OPEC quota and earn enough revenue to drive Tinubu’s economic recovery plan, some disgruntled elements were outraged.
“They are outrage that their brisk and once flourishing illegal business has been shut down by the powerful Nigerian Navy under the daring leadership of Ogalla,’’ he said.
Ovye said that Ogalla deserved commendations and not condemnations for restoring dignity to the Nigerian people and their economy.
“The launch of Operation Delta Sanity by Ogalla upon assumption of duty to cleanse the mess in the Niger Delta region has been hailed as the most proactive, professional and dynamic military operation in the Niger Delta region.
“The dedication, discipline and patriotism of officers and men of the Nigerian Navy in all command centres in the region have been outstanding and fruitful.
“The strategy to partner with host communities to foster intelligence gathering and sharing has played a key role in sabotaging the efforts of oil thieves who previously used host communities as hideouts for their nefarious activities.
“Realising that the chances are up, these miscreants have teamed up to discredit and blackmail Ogalla. It is impossible that evil will triumph against good.
“Mr President cannot afford to lose a good man simply because he has done his job very well by trashing out criminal elements,’’ he said
On the allegations surrounding vessels under contention, believed to have been used in the alleged corruption case against the CNS, Ovye said that the vessels were still impounded and under investigation.
He said that the case of MT PRAISEL, MT KALI, MT TURA, MT VANNALARIS cited by the antagonists had only gone to expose their ignorance.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Nigerian Navy has clear procedural requirements in the arrest, detention and release of any vessel or persons found culpable of any crime in the maritime environment.
“It is until these processes are duly concluded that such vessels are released to appropriate prosecuting agencies for further actions,’’ he said.
Ovye also described the allegation of Ogalla involving in procurement fraud and contract splitting, in violation of the Procurement Act as another recycled lie by desperate blackmailers
He said that the Nigerian Navy has a reputation of due diligence and there was no way Ogalla would award or oversee oil bunkering contracts.
Ovye expressed the group’s vote of confidence on Ogalla.
He advised those who could no longer bear the heat of the Nigerian Navy’s renewed vigour to fight crude oil theft and illegalities in the maritime domain to quit the blackmail and find something legal to do.